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This month’s Litigation Tip comes directly from one of our favorite boutique litigation firms in San Francisco: Lewis + Llewellyn.
Founding Partners Marc Lewis and Paul Llewellyn spoke at our litigation related seminars many years ago, and we frequently have attorneys from the firm speak at our annual Superior Court and Federal Court Boot Camps as well as our Depo training programs, including Evangeline Burbidge, Ryan Erickson and Becca Furman.
California Adopts New Rule for Initial Disclosures in Discovery
On September 30, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill No. 235 (SB235) into law, which amends California Code of Civil Procedure section 2016.090. It institutes a new procedure for initial disclosures of information and documents. Beginning on January 1, 2024, parties will be required to make initial witness and document disclosures within 60 days of another party’s request. Failure to comply or act in good faith with the new law will result in a court-imposed sanction of $1,000.
The initial disclosures shall include:
“The names, addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses of all persons likely to have discoverable information … that the disclosing party may use to support its claims or defenses, or that is relevant to the subject matter of the action or the order on any motion made in that action.”
“A copy, or a description by category and location, of all documents” and
Any insurance policies that may be used “to satisfy, in whole or in part, a judgment entered in the action or to indemnify or reimburse for payments made to satisfy the judgment.”
The new law also clarifies that “a party is not excused from its initial disclosures because it has not fully investigated the case, because it challenges the sufficiency of another party’s disclosures, or because another party has not made it’s disclosures.” The rule will remain in effect until January 1, 2027.
These changes have the potential to streamline fact investigations and reduce the amount of written discovery exchanged between parties. The new timeline will also require counsel to evaluate their position and case strategy much earlier to ensure all relevant information is captured in the initial disclosure. Counsel would be well-advised to familiarize themselves with the new rule, which may catch opposing counsel off guard.
Thank you to everyone at Lewis + Llewellyn for allowing us to re-publish your Litigation Tip of the Month and most especially for speaking at our litigation seminars year after year!